If you want to scale your online business quickly and efficiently, then there are several key areas that you need to examine and improve. For example, you need to make sure that there are no areas of operational drag, which is when your individual systems are needlessly inefficient, expensive, slow, or difficult to manage. This can be tricky to put your finger on because if you have constructed functioning systems, then pulling them apart to work out how you can improve them risks messing up your overall efficiency further.
This is where metrics come into play. By accurately recording the measurable metrics of each of your internal business processes, you will find it far easier to pinpoint inefficiencies or flaws and eradicate them. Without it, you are shooting in the dark, making emotional and irrational decisions that could sink your company. This enables you to see just where you have opportunities to start automating. You may be able to automate a lot more than you initially realized.
Ultimately, your aim should be to automate your online business processes because it will allow you to scale the organization faster, improve overall efficiency, grow your profit margins, and free you up from the personal responsibilities of ensuring your business continues to function every day. While the prospect of automating your entire business sounds daunting (or even impossible), it can certainly be done. After all, one of the key advantages of an online business is the ability for you to hire remote workers, leverage software to replace full-time employees, and quickly scale your marketing to find more customers. Of course, all this takes a considerable amount of time and work, which is where this guide comes in.
To help you automate your online business processes, here are some handy tips:
Lay Down the Technological Foundations First
If you want to automate your online business processes, then you will need to start by laying the foundations for these systems. This is where technology can help. Unlike many brick and mortar businesses, you can use software to create incredibly powerful systems which can handle many of your internal processes automatically, without needing a huge workforce to enable it to function.
For instance, if you run a marketing agency, then you might want to implement automated email sending when you are outreaching to prospects or an API gateway to link different software together. If you are struggling to work out what kind of software and other online tools you need for your systems, examine the existing workflow and take it apart. Find out what needs to be done at each stage of the process, and then find a software that can complete that task.
At some points along the way, you may even find that you need to adapt technology to suit your needs or create a new tool from scratch. While this may be a hindrance at first, if you can find other, similar businesses to sell it to, you could end up creating an additional source of income through it.
Have a Product That Can Be Duplicated Easily and Cheaply
Another great tip is to create a product or service that is easily recreated or sold at scale. The problem with many business models is that the product might be good, but it cannot be easily replicated. To continue the analogy used earlier, imagine you are running a digital marketing agency. You provide a range of services for your clients – including copywriting, SEO, social media marketing, and PPC ads. If you offer all these options, you will never know what you are going to provide for the next client. Therefore, you will constantly be facing quiet periods for certain members of your team, who you may still have to pay despite their very quiet job, pricing your services differently, and finding it impossible to predict your income from one month to the next.
This is no way to scale a business and prevents you from achieving high-profit margins and automating your systems. Instead, stick to one product offering and perfect it until you are both one of the best companies at what you do and can predictably replicate it again and again at little additional cost.
Hire a Remote Team
Once you have nailed your product and started laying the technological groundwork for your online business systems, you will need someone to run them from day to day. Of course, while you can do this yourself, it hardly makes sense to set up automated systems and then waste precious hours managing them every day. Instead, you should look towards hiring a remote team of workers who you can train to manage the various aspects of your automated systems. For example, you could have one virtual assistant managing your customer acquisition system while another could manage customer service delivery. This way, you can ensure that your business continues to function daily without you needing to directly involve it.
Naturally, if you are going to hire a team to run your business for you, there will need to be a standardized way of running the systems day to day. This is why you need to create standard operating procedures for each automated process within your online business. It doesn’t matter how involved your team needs to be in the management of these systems; they need to know how they work and what to do to ensure it functions correctly. An SOP could be as simple as creating a one-page PDF, or end up being a long series of documents, depending on the complexity of the tasks at hand. You don’t want to be the only one that knows how to fix a problem with it.
Automate Marketing and Customer Acquisition
Another aspect of your online business that you may not have considered automating is your marketing and customer acquisition systems. Many businesses make the mistake of focusing too much on their product and not enough on attracting customers, leading to horrendous cash flow problems. Instead, make sure you are attracting customers on autopilot using one or more of the various online marketing methods available, from SEO to emails.